DISCLAIMER: This recap of the Russian Doll episode “Schrödinger’s Ruth” has spoilers. Proceed at your peril. 

Welcome, time prisoners! Russian Doll‘s Season 2 penultimate episode might be its trippiest, whackiest, time-bending, mind-melting outing to date. “Schrödinger’s Ruth,” named after Schrödinger’s cat, showcases the repercussions of meddling with time as Nadia and Alan’s past bleeds into their present. Of course, the tipping point is Nadia bringing her baby self into 2022. 

One of the sacred rules of time travel is that you cannot interact with yourself, which Nadia promptly breaks when she essentially gives birth to baby Nadia. It’s all a metaphor for self-parenting and independence and healing childhood trauma.

Ready to dig deep into “Schrödinger’s Ruth”? Let’s get to it. 

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We open with young Ruth (Annie Murphy), Vera (Irén Bordán) and Delia (Athina Papadimitriu) escorting Nadia (Natasha Lyonne), a.k.a. Nora (Chloë Sevigny), out of the subway train. Nadia/Nora’s about to give birth, so they lay her on the platform while a crowd surrounds her. Derek (Ephraim Sykes) stops by to help out. Unfortunately, there aren’t any doctors nearby. 

Then, Nadia gives birth to … herself. Just a typical day that ends in “y”! It’s all very trippy.

Later, Nadia wakes at the hospital to find Chez (Sharlto Copley) staring intently at her. He congratulates her on the baby and urges Nadia/Nora to sue the MTA. Squeeze all the money she can get out of them. 

Ruth, Vera and Delia barge into the room, vehemently shooing Chez. While Nadia/Nora sleeps, the trio discusses what to do with baby Nadia. Vera believes Nora must return to the mental hospital as she cannot raise a child. Ruth stands up for Nora, persuading Vera to give her daughter a chance. Vera gifts Nadia/Nora with the golden family necklace. 

Charlie Barnett as Alan, walking through the subway ticket gate with a look of reluctance on Russian Doll Season 2 Episode 6 "Schrödinger's Ruth"

RUSSIAN DOLL. Charlie Barnett as Alan Zaveri in Season 2 Episode 6, “Schrödinger’s Ruth.” Cr. Vanessa Clifton/Netflix © 2022

After the trio departs, Nadia scoops up her baby self and escapes the hospital. If she can’t remedy the relationship between her mother and grandmother, if she can’t heal the intergenerational trauma that existed before her time, then the least Nadia can do is be a better mother to herself. It’s like parenting your inner child as an adult (it’s a therapy thing). 

Anyway, Nadia boards the train with baby Nadia, while Alan (Charlie Barnett) travels through the subway station in 1962 East Berlin as his grandmother, Agnes. We see Agnes (Carolyn Michelle Smith) attempt to pass an armed checkpoint, but a guard stops her. Agnes wishes to go to West Berlin to check on her friend (a.k.a. Lenny). Unfortunately, the guard turns her away. Alan leaves in defeat. 

Nadia gets bombarded with texts, the most urgent coming from Maxine. Maxine writes that Ruth’s in the hospital, so Nadia calls her. Maxine (Greta Lee) informs her that Ruth has a pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lung), and the doctors aren’t sure she’ll survive. 

While Nadia runs to Lenox Hill, we see a few anachronistic background items, as if the past is bleeding into the present. Nadia meets with Maxine and Lizzy (Rebecca Henderson) in the waiting room, wherein Maxine reveals that it “doesn’t look good.” 

Suddenly, Nadia spots Maxine and Lizzy returning from the emergency section, donning completely different clothes and betting on when Nadia will arrive. This time, Maxine claims Ruth’s fine, and she’s changing. Nadia gives baby Nadia to Lizzy so that she can see Ruth. 

Nadia finds Ruth (Elizabeth Ashley) sitting on a bed, recovering from a “fender bender.” If you’ll recall, that fender bender occurred in the season premiere. Ruth mentions Nadia’s upcoming birthday and how she has a week to craft the perfect gift. Nadia leaves, approaching another nurse to ask about Ruth Brenner (again). 

Nadia finds Ruth in exam bay seven, wearing a different outfit. Ruth says the doctors wish to keep her overnight to run more tests. Nadia closes the curtain and spots Ruth outside, smoking a cigarette while donning a hospital gown. 

Outside, Ruth jokes that everyone wants to take pictures of her insides, and Nadia yanks the cigarette out of her godmother’s hands. Ruth wishes Nadia a happy birthday, even though she believes she’s “a few days early.” Nadia reveals her birthday is today. That explains all the trippiness. 

Carolyn Michelle Smith as Agnes, standing in front of a police officer in a maroon fur coat on Russian Doll Season 2 Episode 6 "Schrödinger's Ruth."

RUSSIAN DOLL. Carolyn Michelle Smith as Agnes in Season 2 Episode 6, “Schrödinger’s Ruth.” Cr. András D. Hadjú/Netflix © 2022

Meanwhile, Nadia hears someone yell, “Code Blue!” Thinking it’s related to Ruth, Nadia rushes to find doctors and nurses looming over someone else. Nadia pulls another curtain aside to discover Ruth’s belongings, but no Ruth. One nurse informs her that Ruth Brenner isn’t a patient at the hospital. 

Then, Nadia watches while a few men take a stretcher with a body bag to the morgue. She follows them and spots a crop of red hair spilling out of the bag. Nadia unzips it to find her corpse. If you’ll recall, Nadia was struck by a taxi in Season 1 amid her seemingly unending death loop. 

Nadia notices the other body bags in the morgue contain more Nadias, each bearing different signs of trauma. She also spots Alan on a slab, presumably from the night of his first death. 

Later, Alan arrives in 2022. Derek stands on the platform with his fellow Guardian Angels, locked in a quarrel on the precipice of a full-out brawl. Nadia tries to call Alan, while Alan also dials Nadia. However, Alan chats with someone else who complains about Mayor Dinkins (he was the mayor of NYC from 1990 to 1993). 

Alan barges into Nadia’s apartment, finding it bereft of our redheaded protagonist. He notices the slew of photos on her bed and wonders aloud what Nadia did this time. Nadia winds up at Alan’s front door, wherein his neighbor apologizes for overfeeding his goldfish. Then, she resurfaces from inside Alan’s apartment, claiming she killed said goldfish. 

Meanwhile, Alan asks Farran (Ritesh Rajan) if he’s seen Nadia at the convenience store. Farran introduces Alan to his father, who passed away three years ago. Not only that, but his dad looks about as young as him. 

Farran also introduces Alan to Oatmeal, Nadia’s cat. This introduction transpires three times in a row, almost like a glitch in the matrix. We see three Oatmeals purring on the convenience store counter. 

Natasha Lyonne as Nadia, walking in a subway car with graffiti on the walls on Russian Doll Season 2 Episode 6 "Schrödinger's Ruth"

RUSSIAN DOLL. Natasha Lyonne as Nadia Vulvokov in Season 2 Episode 6, “Schrödinger’s Ruth.” Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

While Nadia’s waiting for Alan in his apartment, she cradles her baby self, peering at the plethora of antiquated German maps and literature he has. Alan glimpses himself, sans mustache, walking with Farran in the park. Like in Season 1, we see shots of Nadia and Alan in bathrooms, mirroring each other.

Alan winds up in the reset point bathroom from the previous season. “Gotta Get Up” by Harry Nilsson plays — the song that starts each time Nadia or Alan exits the said bathroom. 

He opens the glowing blue door with the gun handle to find Nadia on the other side, as if she’s at her birthday party again, while holding baby Nadia. 

RELATED: Catch up on all the time-traveling madness with our Russian Doll recaps!

“Schrödinger’s Ruth” is a pulsating, edge-of-your-seat wild ride that sets the stage for what’s sure to be an equally propulsive season finale. Nadia and Alan are back where they started in the first season, so it’ll be interesting to see if the death loop repeats itself. 

Everyone is on their A-game performance-wise, with Lyonne leading the charge with her nuanced, in-depth character work. “Schrödinger’s Ruth” is thought-provoking, exploring the consequences of our choices and what happens when our history dictates our future. Can Nadia and Alan break the cycle their respective families started? Will baby Nadia stay in the present? Keep your eyes glued to this space while I recap Russian Doll, only on Geek Girl Authority.

Russian Doll Season 2 is now streaming on Netflix. 

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Melody McCune
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